I wanted to continue talking about burnout because I think it impacts all of us at some point in our lives. In my practice, I have seen many people trying to push through the exhaustion, which only causes them further emotional and physical damage. What is burnout once again? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Now that we have a sense of what burnout is, I encourage you to assess if burnout could impact your life.
I put together a list of things that could help you in coping more effectively when feeling physically and mentally exhausted.
Seek social support. I cannot stress enough how important social support is when you feel that you are at your breaking point. When you are burned out, you may feel helpless and hopeless. Isolation will only make things worse, that is why I encourage you to seek support from others. I encourage you to find a person who can listen to you and be supportive. You may also work on developing friendships with your coworkers as those relations can serve as a buffer from your mental exhaustion.
Get exercise. I know doing something physically active could be the last thing on your mind when you are feeling spent, but getting at least 30 minutes of physical exercise per day can improve your mood. If you have difficulty getting yourself motivated to exercise, find someone, who will hold you accountable or cheer you on when you do exercise.
Improve your state of mind. Try to find something about your job that you like or value. I strongly encourage you to find some meaning in what you do. Focusing on those positive aspects of what you do that you actually enjoy. Those characteristic may change your attitude about work and help you find a sense of control, or a sense of purpose in what you do. That may also help you acquire balance in your life.
Focus on your priorities. What are your hopes, goals, values and dreams? Ask yourself if you have been neglecting any of those because of your high level of stress. After you do your homework evaluating your priorities, ask yourself if you need to slow down or change some of your patterns. Do you need to set appropriate boundaries with others? Maybe now is the time to learn when to say “no” at work. Do you need to allow yourself for more relaxation time?
Take time off. If possible, I encourage you to take a break from work if your feelings of mental and physical exhaustion are inevitable. Remove yourself from the work setting in order to recharge your batteries and be able to come back to work with a refreshed mind.
Take breaks. I also strongly encourage you to take regular breaks during work. If possible take a walk, stretch, have lunch away from your desk. This may help you get refreshed but also will allow you to increase your productivity. During those breaks, I also encourage you to put away your cell phone, laptop, etc. I want you to detach from work and other obligations when you are taking a break.
Focus on healthy eating habits. Reduce foods that negatively impact your mood, such as trans fats, high-carbohydrate foods, sugars, that quickly lead to “crash” in your energy level and mood. Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to boost your mood, such as fish and walnuts. Avoid nicotine, as nicotine is a stimulant and will lead to higher stress. Limit alcohol consumption as well, as alcohol is a depressant and can also cause anxiety after it wears off.
Find activities that you enjoy. I encourage you to find an activity that will take your attention away from the emotional and physical pain. Find activities that you look forward to because that will help you keep distracted from focusing on the negative events that are happening in your life. Force yourself to go for a walk, go hiking, go bike riding, go out to dinner, go to a movie, park etc. It is not easy to be active or involved in any activity, but doing something will make you feel more productive and most importantly, it will serve as a distraction!
Here are just a few things that you can do in order to work on improving your life. Dealing with burnout is not easy but it can be overcome with having adequate social support and taking appropriate steps to cope with it more effectively. I strongly encourage you to learn relaxation techniques in order to relieve stress and help regain your emotional balance. Work on setting priorities as those will aid you in making a list of all the areas in your life that you want to work on. I believe that every single person matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their lives and find meaning in what they do. I encourage you to work on being proactive, mindful, and take good care of yourself. As I mentioned previously, all of our therapists are fully committed to help you find ways to live a more fulfilling lives.